World’s best equine stars heading to Dubai for World Cup

Leading the 750 horse nominations from 20 countries is American multiple Grade winner Life Is Good, the international ante-post favourite, and fellow States-side raider Hot Rod Charlie



Top notch: Life Is Good is the favourite for the $12 million Dubai World Cup to be held on March 26. — AFP
Top notch: Life Is Good is the favourite for the $12 million Dubai World Cup to be held on March 26. — AFP

By Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Sat 12 Feb 2022, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 23 Feb 2022, 1:20 AM

Since its inception in 1996, the Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup has set the gold standard for horse racing anywhere in the world and next month’s 26th renewal of the $12 million contest looks set to provide fresh impetus to that boast, with some of the best equine stars on the planet heading to Dubai to try their luck.

Leading the 750 horse nominations from 20 countries is American multiple Grade winner Life Is Good, the international ante-post favourite, and fellow States-side raider Hot Rod Charlie.

Between them, Life Is Good and Hot Rod Charlie have mopped up some of American racing’s most prestigious races, with the former having warmed up for his Dubai trip by blitzing his rivals in last month’s $2.9 million Pegasus World Cup International Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

The Todd Pletcher trainee heads 163 horses nominated for the Dubai showpiece, which is one of six glittering Group 1 contests that will unfold at Meydan Racecourse on March 26.

All the nine races on the spectacular day-night card are worth a total purse of $30.5 million in total prize money,

Sheikh Rashid bin Dalmook Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Racing Club, said: “To have more than 750 horses from 20 different countries nominated shows the continued strength of the Dubai World Cup meeting, which has grown each year since its inception in 1996.

“This achievement has been made possible by the vision and guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who is the world’s most influential supporter of this sport.

“We are delighted to have so many Group and Grade 1 winners nominated, including established stars such as Life Is Good and Hot Rod Charlie, and we thank the horse connections for their support and their trust in Dubai,” Sheikh Rashid added.

“We look forward to welcoming connections and fans to the 26th Dubai World Cup and we aim to deliver a spectacular night.”

Run over 2,000 metres on dirt, the entries for the Dubai World Cup include 23 individual Group/Grade 1 winners. Among them is Happy Saver and Dr. Post, who have also been nominated by Pletcher, a seven-time Eclipse Award winner, as Trainer of the Year.

American horses have taken home the glittering trophy on no less than 13 occasions and going by the quality and depth of entries from the country look to have serious claims of extended that dominance.

Life Is Good and Hot Rod Charlie are joined by another solid dirt specialist, Art Collector, who is trained by inaugural Dubai World Cup-winning handler Bill Mott, and 2019 G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Storm The Court, for trainer Peter Eurton.

Leading the home challenge is Godolphin’s Group 2 winner Real World who represents nine-time World Cup-winning handler Saeed bin Suroor.

Bahrain will take their chances with Group 1 winner Salute The Soldier trained by in-form handler Fawzi Nass, while Japan, who won the Dubai World Cup in 2011 with Victoire Pisa, are also well-represented, with 2021 runner-up Chuwa Wizard and Grade 1 scorer Café Pharoah.

The $6million G1 Dubai Sheema Classic, sponsored by Longines, has typically attracted a top-class entry of turf specialists, with 11 Group 1 winners nominated. They include G1 Coronation Cup winner Pyledriver, trainer in the UK by William Muir, as well as Japan’s Glory Vase, a dual winner of the Longines Hong Kong Vase.

The $5million G1 DP World Dubai Turf has attracted 22 Group 1 winners among its 210 entries, including 2021 champion Lord North, trained in the UK by John Gosden, and 2021 G1 Emirates Airline Jebel Hatta winner Lord Glitters.

The USA could be represented by dual G1 Pegasus World Cup Turf winner Colonel Liam, also trained by Pletcher, while the home challenge is led by Godolphin’s Barney Roy, who represents Charlie Appleby, a dual winner of the race with Hawkbill in 2019 and Old Persian in 2021.

US Grade 1 winner Ce Ce is among 161 nominations for the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen, over 1200 metres on dirt, together with another G1 scorer Drain The Clock, and G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint second Dr. Schivel.

The Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint, over 1200 metres on turf, has yielded 170 entries, including defending champion Extravagant Kid, trained by Brendan Walsh, and G1 Haydock Sprint Cup winner Emaraaty Ana, trained in the UK by Kevin Ryan.

The UAE Derby has attracted 141 entries led by Grade 1 winner Albahr, for Appleby, while the legendary Bob Baffert has nominated Grade 2 runner-up Pinehurst.

Baffert has also nominated G1 winner Eight Rings in the G2 Godolphin Mile, while defending champion Secret Ambition races out of first season UAE trainer Bhupat Seemar’s red-hot yard.

Several top European stayers have been aimed at the 3200metre Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup, on turf, among them, Dermot Weld’s dual G1 Irish St Leger winner Search For A Song, as well as former champion jockey Johnny Murtagh’s Sonnyboyliston, winner of the same race in 2021.


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